“Cultural self-loathing”

“Cultures can be ill, leading us and, it is hoped, the medical establishment as well, to rethink the restricted assumptions that only individuals can be ill” (171).

From Healing Narratives: Women Writers Curing Dis-Ease 

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Polyfest 2013

“You don’t learn Samoan dance, you grow up in it.”

In Pasifika culture music is not just something you listen to on the treadmill or in your car and dance isn’t just for a club. Music and dance are fundamental aspects of the Pacific Identity.

In March I went to two festivals celebrating Pacific culture: Pasifika was a Polynesian cultural festival and Polyfest was a Pacific music and dance competion-festival. At both events, islands like Fiji, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Cook Islands, Niue, and Tonga had organized booths where they shared their culture and lots of food. At Polyfest, each island had a stage where different high schools, grammar school, and university groups performed dance native to that country. I only had a brief opportunity to go but during my time there I saw 3 Maori (NZ) dances, 2 Samoan, and 1 Tongan all one right after the other. Having the dances come one after the other allowed me to clearly compare and contrast my experiences of seeing them.

During the Maori performances colors like brown, tan, and black were prominent where Tonga and Samoa made use of more vibrant colors. Red is a generally understood to be a color to signify royalty throughout the Pacific and was used in most of the dances. Within the context of the dances I actually saw, I noticed more range with contemporary in Samoan and Tongan dance.

ASB Polyfest 2008 Ruderford High Maori Group

Something that was absolutely awesome to see was the response of the audience viewing the Maori hakas. At the end of each performance, some members of the audience would stand up and perform a chant back to the performers. I was incredible to witness that display of appreciation from audience to performer. Similarly, in Tongan and Samoan performances, people would often get up and jump around as a sign of respect to the performers during their dances. The moment of elation and the need to get up and move is called mafana. Both audience and performer can feel mafana – as though it’s created in the space and circulates through the air.

Focus

In an earlier post, I mentioned the connection between the

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Cook Island fruits (including taro, papaya, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, and raw fish) at the Mangaian Hostel.

Pacific Island cultures. I was just thinking about how I originally started my project with the intention of focusing on Maori women’s roles of power and identity within the New Zealand community. In my first weeks at university I found myself ignoring opportunities to talk with people about the project because they were Samoan or Tongan. I was thinking this way because I was afraid of veering off course and losing focus on my interests in Maori culture. Since then, I’ve learned that many people aren’t just Maori- instead many people introduce themselves as being a beautiful mix of Tongan, Niuean, Cook Islander, Fijian, Samoan, New Caledonian or all of the above. “A Polynesian surprise”, one man identified himself as.

This project has taken a turn to include globalism and cultural identity as key parts of its focus.

What does it mean to be an American? As we are a country of historical and modern immigrants, how important is it that we know our ancestry?

The Beyonce Paradox

About a year ago I started listening to Beyonce and I recognized what a great artist she is. She’s got something about show biz figured out. Her live performances are 10x what her recorded audio is and she surpasses fan’s expectations with every album. She’s respected and idolized across the globe and reasonably so. They don’t call her Queen B for nothing (all hail!).

 

English: Star of the group Destiny's Child on ...

English: Star of the group Destiny’s Child on Hollywood Walk of Fame. Português: Estrela do grupo Destiny’s Child na Calçada da Fama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Some people get their best ideas when showering at a Holiday Inn. I get mine when I’m trying to go to sleep. Such was the case for tonight. I was lying in bed, on the cusp of passing over into the world of stress-free surreality when all of a sudden I saw a Girl dressed in a revealing business dress-suit, on her hands and knees, frantically collecting money on the floor that has is falling from the ceiling. All the while, the chorus of Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women” is blaring in the background.  I watched Girl panic in ‘. Then the lyrics “Girl, I didn’t know you could get down like that” accused Girl and she looked up to realize she was being watched. I grabbed my journal and started thinking about other songs Beyonce has written or contributed to. Songs like “Crazy in Love”, “Survivor”, and “Run the World (Girls)” all came to mind. Each time, a scene came to mind that had something to do with the paradox of being a successful, independent woman in America. I started asking myself: What does it mean to be a woman in my cultural environment?

 

beyonce.complex2.mp3waxx

beyonce.complex2.mp3waxx (Photo credit: mp3waxx.com)

 

What does it mean to be successful?